LGBTQ2-owned businesses that participated in the trade mission called the experience “invaluable” and felt confident that concrete economic benefits will result, both in terms of building and expanding business connections and partnerships, as well as securing real contract opportunities.
The first-ever government-led LGBTQ2 trade mission took place on August 14-17, 2018, in context of the annual NGLCC international Business & Leadership Conference, in Philadelphia. The mission was led by the Hon. Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification. MP Randy Boissonnault, Special Advisor to Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 Issues, was also part of the delegation. They were accompanied by the Canadian Consul General in New York, Phyllis Yaffe, representatives from the Canadian trade offices in New York and Philadelphia, and by the CGLCC’s CEO, Darrell Schuurman, and the CGLCC’s Director, Global Program and Government Relations, Richard Martin. Four CGLCC board members were also in attendance: Catherine Grosz, Bruce McDonald, Zach Pendley, and Jim Rondeau.
In his address to the 1,300 participants at the NGLCC conference (copy of speech attached), Carr spoke of Canada’s open, inclusive and supportive social and market environment for LGBTQ2-owned enterprises. He also made it clear that the Government of Canada was totally engaged in supporting the LGBTQ2 communities and businesses looking to expand their trading activities: “We are in Philadelphia to bring Canadian LGBTQ2-owned businesses together with potential partners who are looking for the high-quality products and services you have to offer,” he said.
This message was reinforced by Randy Boissonnault, who was one of the panelists in the conference session entitled Doing business with Canada. Speaking to a full house, the panelists highlighted Canada’s approach and support of global free trade at a time when some countries are more concerned about setting up barriers and economic sanctions, while being confident that the current renegotiations of NAFTA will result in positive and beneficial outcomes for all concerned. The response from the U.S. participants was very positive, with an unprecedented level of interest on their part in wanting to find Canadian business partners and establish partnerships with Canadian suppliers.
A total of 15 companies, from various parts of Canada, participated in the LGBTQ2 trade mission (list of companies below). Participants received a comprehensive briefing on the current business environment in the U.S., as well as the kind of support and services Canadian enterprises can get from the International Trade Commissioner’s service and Export Development Canada. This point was reinforced by Carr when he stated that the Government of Canada “will make sure every single business owner or aspiring entrepreneur can tap new markets with the confidence that comes from knowing their government has their back”.
The CGLCC hosted its annual networking business breakfast, sponsored by Kellogg Company, bringing together Canadian LGBTQ2 suppliers and American corporations. Some 60 people attended this popular and hugely successful event. The trade mission’s Canadian suppliers got the opportunity to present their companies and what they do, as well as ask corporate representatives for information on their respective suppler diversity process, their priorities, and advice on best practices with respect to understanding the corporations’ supplier diversity requirements and expectations.
Canadian participants in the trade mission also got the opportunity to meet with representatives from other international LGBT+ chambers of commerce attending the conference in Philadelphia, and to learn more about business potential in different parts of the world. While in Philadelphia, the CGLCC signed a new collaborative agreement with the Scandinavian LGBT Chamber of Commerce in the presence of Minister Carr, Randy Boissonnault and the Swedish Ambassador to the United States. The purpose of the agreement is to foster cooperation and partnership between the members of both organizations, in particular through greater LGBT+ supplier inclusion as well as contracting and strategic teaming opportunities. Similar agreements already exist between the CGLCC and the United States, Colombia, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and East Meets West, a non-profit business association based in Vienna, Austria, and covering 16 countries in central and eastern Europe.
The CGLCC was pleased and honoured to work closely with Global Affairs Canada in the promotion and the organization of this trade mission, as well as in the recruitment of participating LGBTQ2-owned businesses.
Participating companies were unanimous in hoping to they will have the opportunity to participate in similar trade missions, in the United States and beyond, in the future.
Participating businesses on the LGBTQ2 Trade Mission:
- Access Innovation Media (Al-Media)
- Boutique 3e Âge
- Canadian Virtual Gurus
- Cloud Surfing Media
- Growing Greener Innovations
- Indie Group
- MELLOHAWK Logistics Inc.
- Prompta Consulting Group
- Robertson & Company
- Silverman Chapman & Reese
- Systematic Design
- The House of Purpose
- Theatre of Commerce
- Transfocus Consulting
Participating Corporate Partners:
For a copy of the directory of all participants, click here
For the Minister’s Speech, please click here